Wednesday, December 28, 2022

It's About Time, Music for Wind Ensemble and Jazz Soloists, New England Conservatory Symphonic Winds, William Drury


When one contemplates the legacy of the New England Conservatory in Boston,  if you are like me the realm of Jazz Composition springs to mind, given its association with the brilliance of such things in the hands of NEC associated artists George Russell, Gunther Schuller and Jimmy Giuffre, among others. So when I came upon a new release by the New England Conservatory  Symphonic Winds under William Drury, namely It's About Time (MSR Jazz 1801, my eyes lit up.

And after a good number of listens I come on here to talk about it. First things first, the ensemble is surprisingly seasoned for a school ensemble. They have an outstanding timbral luster, a full and balanced, punchy tutti and colorful sectionalities, and they bring out the salient features of each work very well indeed.

The repertoire includes some fine basics by Bernstein ("Some Other Time") and Mancini ("Dreamsville") both nicely arranged by Dave Rivello. Then there are forays into the future and present, all showing some hommage one way or another to key compositional-arranging voices like Gil Evans, George Russell, Gunther Schuller and what came after, but then all stating an original meld and memorable soundings, each its own. 

Rather than try and epitomize each new work performed in the program I will leave it to your ears. Suffice to say that each piece  has much of musical merit, plenty of richly inventive group unfoldings and dynamics. All of this music is progressive, and perhaps there is not a lot of the boldly avant about it, but in the end one does not care. In the end it is uniformly high caliber music that transcends category and nicely stands up to scrutiny in the Jazz and Classical New Music aspects of the whole throughout. So here's to the composers represented: those mentioned above plus Mildred J. Hill, Guillermo Klein, Greg McLean, and James Stevenson.

I do recommend you hear this, live with this music and grow with its implications. It is in every way worth your time.

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